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1278Hunterdon County may be home to deer suffering from common viral disease

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  • pat scala
    Aug 25, 2011
      A warning issued today by New Jersey wildlife officials says a white-tailed deer suffering from a debilitating disease may be in southern Hunterdon County.


      The ailment, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, is not a public health issue, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife says.
       
      A localized virus that spreads among deer through the bites of midge flies, it cannot be transmitted to people. Nor are humans at risk by handling infected deer, being bitten by infected midges or eating infected deer meat. However, the Division of Fish and Wildlife strongly advises against consuming meat from any game animal that appears ill.
       
      Officials today advised hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts in the East Amwell, Hopewell and Hillsborough township areas of west-central New Jersey to be alert for a lone deer that wildlife biologists believe are experiencing symptoms of the disease.
       
      "A number of people have reported seeing deer that exhibit signs of EHD," said David Chanda, director of the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, according to a news release. "The division is asking the public to report any deer showing symptoms of the disease to help us monitor the impact on the local deer herd."
      EHD is a common viral disease in deer that is contracted from the bite of a species of midge known as Culiocoides sonorensis, according to the news release. It does not spread from deer to deer.
       
      EHD outbreaks end with the onset of colder weather, which will kill midges that spread the disease. New Jersey has documented occasional localized outbreaks of EHD in different parts of the state for more than 50 years. The last occurred in fall 2010 in Salem County.
       
      Deer typically die within five to 10 days of infection. Infected deer initially lose their appetite and fear of people. They grow progressively weaker and often salivate excessively. As the disease progresses, infected deer breathe heavily and develop a fever. Fever-ridden deer may go to water to drink or cool off. Eight to 36 hours following the onset of observable signs, the infected deer pass into a shock-like state, become prostrate and die.
       
      The Division of Fish and Wildlife asks anyone who sees deer exhibiting signs of EHD, such as difficulty standing, drooling, emitting foam from the mouth or nose, or dead deer with no apparent wounds, observed in or near water to report the find to the division’s Office of Fish and Wildlife Health Forensics by calling Bill Stansley at 908-236-2118 or Carole Stanko at 908-735-7040.

      >Livestock infected with EHD may show clinical signs similar to a number of other livestock diseases. People suspecting these diseases should test their animals and can seek information from the state Veterinarian’s Office at 609-292-3965.

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